Satellite tracking of livestock
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CTA. 2006. Satellite tracking of livestock. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57322
high tech approach to livestock identification and tracking to protect cattle and manage grazing resources in Botswana and Kenya.
Satellite tracking of livestock Cue: For pastoralist communities, livestock are like a bank account ? the assets on which the community depends. But keeping a careful watch on livestock is not always easy. Many cattle herders brand their animals to leave a permanent, identifying mark on their skin. However, increasingly there are demands for cattle owners to have much more detailed information about their animals, especially if they wish to sell to foreign markets. In Botswana and Kenya a new technology is currently being tested that aims to provide herders with this detailed information they need. A pilot project, being implemented by a Kenya-based organisation called ERMIS (Environment Research Mapping and Information Systems in Africa), uses small computer chips which are swallowed by the cattle, and which act as an electronic identification system. Linked to satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS), the computer chips are able to keep a record of the animal?s movements. Julius Muchimi, Executive Director of ERMIS explained the benefits and some of the potential hazards of the new technology to Susanna Thorp. IN: ?The technology is actually being ? OUT: ? within the pastoral communities.? DUR?N 4?43? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Julius Muchimi on a high tech approach to livestock identification and tracking, which could help to protect cattle and the grazing resources they depend on. Transcript Muchimi The technology is actually being used in the livestock sector basically in terms of a livestock identification and also the trace back mechanism. And what is happening is that livestock are actually identified in terms of where they come from and then it also helps in terms of identifying how the animals move around pastoral areas and how they can also be traced back in case they are actually lost or in case they are stolen. So it is actually is able to have an identification number and it is also able to give information on where the animal is actually located or where it is at any specific time. Thorp Now you mentioned the trace back system, this is actually for when you are exporting animals and the EU requirements now insist that you have to be able to know where that animal has come from and what it has been through in terms of treatments, that?s right isn?t it? Muchimi Yes that is true because for the African countries to penetrate into the EU market then that is a requirement that the animal must be identified in terms of where it has come from and that is actually the key thing. In Botswana, we know Botswana is actually doing very well in the livestock market and in Kenya we are unable to penetrate the EU market but we are seeing that by taking that technology and using it within our livestock sector then we are going to have a niche within the European Market. So we are trying to advance the technology, one, to penetrate into the European Market and two, to be able to also retain and contain our livestock resources within our territories so that then we can bring down the issue of cattle rustling, stealing cattle within the country and also across the borders to other countries. So we want to retain our assets and we want to get our market niche. Thorp What about with actually managing pastoral rangelands, I mean is there the potential to sort of see how the pastoralists are using the land and help them make the most so that they are not contributing to degradation issues? Muchimi The technology is actually quite important in terms of resource allocation because you can know the number of animals that are within a given region, and you can actually be able to have a kind of a regional appropriation of pastoral resources like the grazing resources, where water is and also where pasture is. So you can actually be able to apportion, so that you have sustainable use of natural resources. So it is actually a technology that - well used - then it can also bring a lot of sustainability. And I think actually that is the strength in that you can allocate resources in an equitable way. Thorp So it sounds like it could be quite successful but what challenges are there in using this technology? Muchimi One is the issue of the cost. We have to really think is it really affordable by the community? The other thing is that can the community also be able to now take the technology further by using GPS and using the GIS software because the technology is actually moving. The question is, is it an appropriate technology that the community can use without external assistance? So the issue is actually sustainability of the technology. Thorp But what about the information that is generated and who owns that information? I mean if you are using these very modern technologies and you are using a computer chip and you are linking it in with GPS, then there is the potential for other people to take that information and use it for other means? Muchimi Yes that is actually a problem. If you look at the technology, it was invented for military purposes, monitoring your enemies or even remotely monitoring resources that are outside your territory. So when you bring this technology then you give your enemy a chance of knowing exactly where your assets are, where your animals are, and if they want to track it, it is actually very clear. They can actually use GIS and other systems to monitor actually where you are migrating to, where you are grazing your animals and also where you are also possibly going to sell. So they can intercept you. So it is a technology that needs a lot of care and we have to look at actually, are the communities secure by using this technology because it exposes them, it makes them vulnerable. Thorp So, some good advantages, but some disadvantages that have to be taken into consideration. Do you see it as something that will be taken up more widespreadly? Muchimi Yes because the benefits are more than even the threats. Many communities we would like to move forward because it is securing their livestock and it is also securing the environment, meaning the sustainability of the whole livestock production system within the pastoral communities. End of track
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